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Title: Physical processes in an electron current layer causing intense plasma heating and formation of x-lines

We study the evolution of an electron current layer (ECL) through its several stages by means of three-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations with ion to electron mass ratio M/m{sub e} = 400. An ECL evolves through the following stages: (i) Electrostatic (ES) current-driven instability (CDI) soon after its formation with half width w about 2 electron skin depth (d{sub e}), (ii) current disruption in the central part of the ECL by trapping of electrons and generation of anomalous resistivity, (iii) electron tearing instability (ETI) with significantly large growth rates in the lower end of the whistler frequency range, (iv) widening of the ECL and modulation of its width by the ETI, (v) gradual heating of electrons by the CDI-driven ES ion modes create the condition that the electrons become hotter than the ions, (vi) despite the reduced electron drift associated with the current disruption by the CDI, the enhanced electron temperature continues to favor a slow growth of the ion waves reaching nonlinear amplitudes, (vii) the nonlinear ion waves undergo modulation and collapse into localized density cavities containing spiky electric fields like in double layers (DLs), (viii) such spiky electric fields are very effective in further rapid heating of both electrons and ions.more » As predicted by the electron magnetohydrodynamic (EMHD) theories, the ETI growth rate maximizes at wave numbers in the range 0.4 < k{sub x}W < 0.8 where k{sub x} is the wave number parallel to the ECL magnetic field and w is the evolving half width of the ECL. The developing ETI generates in-plane currents that support out-of-plane magnetic fields around the emerging x-lines. The ETI and the spiky electrostatic structures are accompanied by fluctuations in the magnetic fields near and above the lower-hybrid (ion plasma) frequency, including the whistler frequency range. We compare our results with experimental results and satellite observation.« less
Authors:
;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Alabama, Huntsville, Alabama 35899 (United States)
  2. CSPAR, University of Alabama, Huntsville, Alabama 35899 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22410297
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Physics of Plasmas; Journal Volume: 22; Journal Issue: 5; Other Information: (c) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY; CHARGED CURRENTS; COMPUTERIZED SIMULATION; ELECTRIC FIELDS; ELECTRON DRIFT; ELECTRON TEMPERATURE; ELECTRONS; FREQUENCY RANGE; INSTABILITY GROWTH RATES; ION WAVES; LANGMUIR FREQUENCY; LOWER HYBRID HEATING; MAGNETIC FIELDS; MODULATION; TEARING INSTABILITY; THREE-DIMENSIONAL CALCULATIONS; TRAPPING; WHISTLERS